Marla is simply...multi-talented. A retired teacher, Marla Jones is also a freelance writer, playwright and author. AND she spends her time teaching children about the less fortunate. How so? Through her children's book, Ponder Learns To Be Thankful.
1. Did you grow up writing, or did you find a passion for it later in life?
I have always found it easy to write. I read constantly. As we all know, the more you read, the easier it is to write! However, I don't have that innate compulsion to write that many authors do. I seem to write in response to strong emotions I am feeling at the moment.
2. Tell me about your book, Ponder Learns To Be Thankful.
This book is a child's introduction to the homeless and hungry. Ponder Porcupine lives in a safe, insulated little world and has never know anyone that didn't look, act and dress like him. So when Papa Porcupine gently exposes Ponder to the harsh realities of the homeless right in his own neighborhood, Ponder learns a valuable lesson about how God wants us to respond to the hurting and hungry souls we meet.
3. What inspired you to write this book?
I teach children's church at the First United Methodist Church in downtown OKC. We have homeless folks that attend our church as well as many homeless people who stop by our doors every day needing something to eat. Most children are insulated from this world of homelessness and hunger. However, it is never too early to teach children about those who are less fortunate through no fault of their own.
I believe it is our duty as parents to teach our children to be aware of the needy, show them compassion and to reach out and help whenever possible. The book was a Thanksgiving lesson for my FUMC-OKC children.
4. How did you decide on the name "Ponder"?
When I first started teaching, I had a student named Ponder G. I have always loved that name. So, in typical first grade fashion, I paired Ponder with porcupine for a nice alliteration.
5. You taught first grade for 12 years. Do you find that sharing your book with children still allows you fulfill an inherent desire to teach and help kids?
Yes, it does. My favorite part of teaching was creating lessons and activities that illustrated a concept. Since I teach Children's Church each week, I still get my "fix". I also write professionally for Augsburg Fortress Publishing House, creating games and activities for their children's curriculum. My office looks very much like a classroom. It is filled with glue, scissors, construction paper, play dough, etc. I love the creative aspect of my job.
6. You also have a story being turned into a play. Congratulations! Tell me about that.
I wrote "The Surprise at the Bottom of the Hill" as a story to be told at our church's Advent Fair last year. I wanted to meld the true story of Christmas with the story of Santa with which all children are familiar.
The Children's Council heard the story and decided it would be a good theme for this year's Advent Fair. So, we created the village of "Angel Falls" with shops and a village square where an actual tree-lighting ceremony concluded the play. The children and their parents then went and visited the shops with all their fun activities.
7. What is your website, and how can people contact you?
My website is www.marlajoneswriter.vpweb.com. There's a contact page where books may be ordered or comments given. Ponder Learns to be Thankful is available from Amazon.com as well.
8. Anything else you'd like to share?
One of my activities is being published in the December issue of MetroFamily Magazine here in Oklahoma City. It's a fun game for children and parents to play together this holiday season.
Thanks, Marla! Glad to hear about all the positive things you're doing.
Thought For the Day: When's the last time you thought about how fortunate you are rather than focusing on life's inconveniences? Going without a Starbucks doesn't = Going Without. It sounds like Ponder has something to teach us all - especially during this time of year.
Like the blog? Sign up as a Follower!